5 ways to captain your team

Being a team captain is both an honor and privilege. The position carries a weight of responsibility that requires the player be “all in.”

Longtime USA Football U.S. National Team coach Aaron Brady knows what it takes to develop leadership. He believes leaders are born off the field.

Brady lists several traits that define true team leadership, including communication, leading by example and an infectious attitude.


Let’s build on those three necessary traits and look even deeper into five more building blocks on how team captains approach leadership:

1The team captain is the fiercest competitor on the field

Nobody outtrains, outperforms or outdoes the team captains. They are the example to follow. Other players emulate their work ethic.

Is your team captain the fiercest competitor on the team?

2. The team captain possesses the highest mental strength and positive attitude of anyone on the team

Just like players emulate a captain’s work ethic, they’re drawn to and imitate their attitude as well. They don’t allow trash talk or let teammates degrade and criticize each other. They do allow positive encouragement and constructive criticism – the kind that builds up and makes players better.

Does your team captain demonstrate the highest mental strength level on the team?

3. The team captain keeps it 100 – open and honest at all times

Jeff Janssen, owner of Janssen Sports Leadership Center, says, “Your best leaders keep it real. They are honest with coaches and teammates and earn their deep sense of trust. They honor and follow through with their commitments so they are the most responsible and reliable people on the team.”

Is your team captain open, honest, and trustworthy?

4. The three C’s of leadership required for every team captain

As laid out by sports psychologists Larry Lauer and Kevin Blue, a team captain must be:

  • Caring (undeniable passion for the game and well-being of the team)
  • Courageous (willing to step up; becoming a model of courage and dedication)
  • Consistent (giving 100 percent effort in every practice and game)

Does your team captain possess and practice the three C’s?

5. Team captains think and act for the ultimate good of the team

They mentor fellow players, with tips and advice on how to improve their skills and overall game. They teach how to perform as a unit, correct ball hogs, talk up players with less confidence and promote trust between team members.

Does your team captain think and act for the betterment of the whole team?

If you’re a head coach, use these five building blocks to assess your team captains. Do they possess the traits listed?

If you’re a team captain, do you practice the five building blocks within your team?

As a leader, you should always self-evaluate and improve your leadership skills. Stack these building blocks in your life and team to create a strong structure for success.

Michelle Hill, the Strong Copy QB at Winning Proof, helps athletes tell their stories by ghostwriting books. She works exclusively with pro athletes, coaches, team owners, and other sports professionals, to move their book idea from concept to publication, from the Red Zone to the End Zone.

The ABCDs of Being a Happy Sports Parent

As a sports parent, you have a choice in every situation. You can choose to yell at your young athlete, the coach or the official, or you can choose to stay calm and not take it all so seriously. You can choose to nag your young athlete to work hard, or you can choose to let them learn the consequences of their choices.

Recognizing that you have a choice and actually following through on that choice process are two different things. But once you understand that making a choice is a process and once you grasp what that process entails, you can take control of your reactions. I love the process laid out in the book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, where the author lays out a four step process: A,B,C and D. Let’s do that with youth sports parenting.


Learning to make good choices in terms of behavior starts with an awareness that you actually have a choice. Furthermore, one must accept that maybe, just maybe, one’s behavior is less than desirable.

How many times have you said something and immediately knew that it was not the smartest thing to say? That’s awareness, and that’s the first step in the process of making good choices.


Once you become aware that you are starting to overreact, then ask yourself this question: Do I need to step back, pause and gain perspective?

Obviously, this is not easy in the heat of a moment. The more you practice it, the more of a habit it will become. Sports parents are notorious for emotional outbursts, which would be avoided if they’d stop to breathe and pause before proceeding.


Once you step back and try to gain perspective, it’s time ask yourself this question: What’s really going on in this situation? Am I perhaps missing something? Asking yourself this question may require you to do some soul-searching.

For instance, you sit through a game where you feel your young athlete gets little playing time and it makes you very upset. You feel your blood pressure rising and are aware that you might explode at the coach after the game. You stop to breathe and pause before proceeding. You take a minute to ask yourself what’s really going on. Is your child frustrated, or is it just you? Is this a situation that your child should handle by talking to the coach him or herself? Does your child fully understand his or her role on the team? Do you?


At this point, you can decide what the best course of action is. Choose the action that will be best for your young athlete, not for your frustrations. Choose the action that will best help your young athlete to grow through the situation, not what eases your anger. Decide to take a big-picture view of your child’s youth sports experience, in hopes that he or she will truly learn and grow from it.

If you start practicing this choice process, there’s no doubt that you’ll have less regrets and more fun watching your young athlete play youth sports.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

Balance: The Foundation of Success

The 2017 World Series was balanced. The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers were neck and neck in every game, making for a very exciting series to watch and learn from. But if one team had totally outmatched the other, we wouldn’t be calling it one of the best World Series ever. It was as if both teams made each other better by continually raising the bar.

That’s what competition is all about: two equally matched teams, each tipping the balance in their favor—if only by one run.

But balance isn’t just physical; it’s a way of living one’s life. Striking a healthy balance in youth sports has much to do with perspective and good judgement. When my son was six, his baseball team won every game with scores like 20 to one and 30 to three. Because this rec team was unfairly stacked with the most talented athletes, there was absolutely no competition; any type of learning life lessons from failure was unfortunately put off until a later date. And how do you think the inexperienced six-year-old kids on the other teams felt? In this unbalanced situation, created by adults with poor judgement and lack of perspective, nobody won.

When winning is over-emphasized in youth sports, imbalance is usually the result.

In youth sports, there are often two philosophies when it comes to winning: winning is unimportant or winning is the only thing. Neither of these extremes represents a balanced approach. Winning is important, because without the desire to win, it’s no longer sport and any opportunity to learn life lessons through competition will be lost. But when a coach’s sole desire is winning, kids are the losers. Overtraining, playing too many games and pressure to perform beyond their ability results in burnout and over-use injuries.

The rising popularity of travel teams has produced many unbalanced situations. They are not all created equal so research is important. When managed responsibly, however, they can be a good venue for kids whose interest level matches the commitment. Being on a travel team is not an automatic stepping stone to the future. If you think it is, you may be disappointed. There must be a proper balance of playing time and personal training on skill development for progress to happen, whether playing travel ball or not.

The only stepping stone to something bigger lies within one’s self. There must be a self-motivating notion that drives a player forward, no matter what.

Physical Balance:

Mastering one’s physical balance is the first step in developing athleticism. In martial arts, the code of karate states: “A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight.” Trying to execute a difficult athletic movement without a solid foundation of balance will be futile as the body fights to overcome unwanted movement or weight. Whether it’s a boxer delivering a punch or a baseball player swinging a bat, it’s all about focusing all of your energy into the movement in the most efficient way possible.

When the body is unbalanced, this does not happen. The nervous system must recruit muscles to try to regain balance, leaving less energy to put into the ball, resulting in a weaker hit, for example.

Mental Balance:

When a hitter steps into the batter’s box, or a basketball player steps up to the free throw line, their mental approach will prove to be the difference maker between success and failure. At this moment, an over-competitive mind will cause an out of control body and mechanics will suffer. When mental stimulation is balanced, previous physical training will manifest itself to the highest degree possible. Achieving mental balance starts with taking a breath before every pitch, free throw, serve or swing.

Whether it’s an entertaining World Series or our kids seeking joy in playing sports, balance is needed for good outcomes to become possible. For kids, a balanced approach to their sports experience is crucial whether it’s to avoid overuse injuries and burnout, or to avoid laziness by thinking others will make them great by creating unrealistic opportunities for them.

Chuck Schumacher is the author of “How to Play Baseball: A Parents Role in Their Child’s Journey,” available at www.chuckschumacher.com (signed copy) or Amazon. Chuck has 20 years experience as a youth baseball coach and 40 years experience in martial arts. In 2006, he opened Chuck’s Gym in Franklin, Tenn., where he teaches baseball and Okinawan karate. You can contact Chuck at chucksgym@comcast.net.

Pressure in Youth Sports: Protect Kids or Teach Them to Deal With It?

“C’mon, Mason, you can do it! One more strike, put him in the books!”

As these encouraging words resonate from the crowd, Mason receives the ball back from the catcher after throwing one in the dirt, allowing the runner to score from third—one ball, two strikes. He pauses to compose himself, taking a breath to relax his mind and loosen the muscles. He hears the crowd but they become mere background noise as he prepares to allow his body to act without his mind doing anything. The pitch is on the way—strike three!

masonpitching_webDoes it seem unrealistic for a 9-year-old kid to have this kind of mental control over his thoughts in the heat of competition? Along with proper mechanics, my student Mason has been taught a routine that helps him mentally prepare before every pitch. This routine keeps his mind “in the moment” instead of “in the crowd.”

You won’t see this kind of poise from a kid with little or no training. After throwing a wild pitch, you are more likely to see negative body language—looking into the crowd at his parents or rushing the next pitch hoping to get lucky. The truth is, in a competitive environment a trained pitcher merely feels challenged while an untrained pitcher feels pressured.

In youth sports, preparation equals fun.

Whatever the sport, teaching kids about basic mental preparation is crucial for managing pressure. It starts with taking a breath. Doing this consistently will focus the mind and loosen the muscles, allowing the body to effortlessly perform the mechanics unique to the sport. If taught along with basic physical technique, kids will learn it. It’s that simple.

The best time to learn how to manage pressure is when an athlete is young; the best time to teach it is at practice. When failure happens, be ready to give instruction.

What causes pressure? Along with a lack of training, unrealistic expectations from parents and coaches are a big cause. If these expectations are out of balance with the amount of training a young athlete has, there will be pressure, and it can be overwhelming.

masonandcoach_webAs parents, we purposely train our kids to listen to our voices at all times. Usually, this is a good thing, but it’s not particularly helpful when your child is trying to perform a difficult skill like hitting or pitching a baseball, so coaching from the stands should be avoided. Encouraging cheers from the crowd can also be distracting for some kids.

Cheering is a normal part of a competitive event; this will never change, nor should it have to. How a kid responds to the cheering, however, should be cause for reflection for parents. If a player feels pressure from normal cheering and failing because of it, it may mean that their parent’s expectations have been unrealistic the whole time, not just during today’s game. Just hearing their parent’s voice can rattle even the most talented kid if they’ve been constantly over-coached on results, and this is the problem, not the cheering. Instead of “C’mon, you can do it,” this player sub-consciously hears, “C’mon, you better do it!” Parent’s expectations are powerful! If they are unreasonably high, they can shatter confidence and ruin a young player’s competitive experience.

The key is to not add unnecessary pressure by over-coaching during competition. Once the game starts, an athlete’s training is what they can count on, not some anxiety-ridden parent or coach yelling, “Throw strikes!”

Pressures in professional sports and youth sports are similar, but when it comes to managing this pressure, the age and experience levels of the athletes makes the difference. Pressure is normal during competition, but an athlete needs to learn effective ways to cope with it or the pressure is likely to win the battle.

Chuck Schumacher is the author of “How to Play Baseball: A Parents Role in Their Child’s Journey,” available at www.chuckschumacher.com (signed copy) or Amazon. Chuck has 20 years experience as a youth baseball coach and 40 years experience in martial arts. In 2006, he opened Chuck’s Gym in Franklin, Tenn., where he teaches baseball and Okinawan karate. You can contact Chuck at chucksgym@comcast.net.

4 Truths That Will Radically Change Your Sports Parenting

You show up to your child’s game and sit down to enjoy the game and the beautiful day. Suddenly the serenity is pierced by the sound of a parent hollering instructions and calling out players by name.  Horrified, you realize that it’s you that’s bellowing from the sidelines. At that moment your child catches your eye and you realize that he is embarrassed and defeated. You sink down into your chair, determined to change your ways.

Sound familiar? Here are four truths that, if applied daily to your parenting perspective, will radically change your youth sports experience for the better. This change will trickle down to your young athlete, giving them a more positive and enjoyable season as well.

Truth #1: Your Child Can Play Youth Sports Without You.

In the “good old days,” kids used to play pickup games in the park, with little to no adult supervision. And the adults that were there, watched from a distance just to be sure that no one got hurt. Kids had fun, adults did adult things and everyone was happy.

My point is this: Your child is perfectly capable of having fun and playing sports without you!  However, in today’s youth sports culture, with its leagues, elite teams, and private coaches, the game no longer belongs to the kids. It belongs to adults, too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to encourage competition and skill growth, but the lengths that some adults go to in order to control their child’s youth sports experience has turned it into a circus.

Let’s encourage the purity of the game, which is that youth sports is fun and should be all about the kids.

Truth #2: Your Child is Capable of More Than You Realize.

Isn’t it amazing what your kids can do when you don’t interfere? They are smarter and tougher than parents often give them credit for. And that strength only comes as parents let them work it out themselves. The more parents step in to fix things, the less resilient a child becomes.

Try it sometime. Back off and let your child figure it out by themselves. You will be amazed and proud of how they handle things. I’m not saying they won’t make mistakes. However, they will learn from them and work through them with the support—not the interference— from Mom and Dad.

Truth #3: One Season Will Not Determine Your Child’s Entire Athletic Journey.

If your child is in sports for the long haul, one season is not going to make or break them.

Last week I attended a high school basketball game and later learned that one of the starters got injured and is out for the season. He’s a sophomore, and will undoubtedly be back next season. He’s a good athlete and will not be defined by this one season of injury.


Even my son, who suffered a season-ending injury in his senior year of high school football, refused to let that define his athletic journey and was still able to play in college.

Perhaps your child has a rough season because of difficulty with a coach or teammates. When that happens, help them see that it’s only one season—although it seems like forever to them—and therefore only one link in the chain that is their youth sports journey.

Truth #4: Youth Sports Should Not Define Your Child’s Identity.

Youth sports is merely a means to an end, whether that end is a college scholarship or growing into a strong, responsible adult. Youth sports is not the end all, be all in life and it should not be the only thing that defines your child.

I like to make a distinction here between define and describe. Define means that your child only lives for, knows, and works for youth sports. Kids defined by their ability in youth sports are left devastated when they can no longer play because that was their whole world and it defined who they were.

On the other hand, if children describe themselves as athletes who play basketball or lacrosse, then they understand that competition is not their reason for living; it is merely something that they want to succeed in and love to do. When youth sports is over for them, the world does not end because they will find other things they love to do. They are a person apart from their sport.

So where are you when it comes to these truths?

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

Parents’ Actions Impact Coaches’ Decisions

It started with me asking, “which one is your son?” and ended sometime later having uttered five sentences, at most. By then I was well versed on how incredibly gifted his son was, every team and coach his son had played for, and how every one of them had mishandled him. Even if I discounted everything by half, his son had played for six different clubs. The kid was 11 years old.

Baseball PitcherAll I kept thinking was the kid would never play on a team I coached. I could envision the countless phone calls and meetings with his father regarding his son. Imagine the litany of questions he would ask: Where he was playing? Where is he batting? Why isn’t he playing first base? I could picture the disdain coming from the sideline whenever the kid didn’t bat in his father’s preferred spot. If none of the other umpteen coaches had handled the kid to the father’s liking, what would make me the lucky one? Nothing. It’s a shame too. The kid was a good ball player.

Whether we like it or not, our actions and demeanor as parents of young athletes have as much impact on coaches’ decisions as our children’s abilities. Here are three reasons why:

No one likes one and done

Persistent team hopping is usually a sign the parent has inflated ideas about their kid’s ability. The parent is chasing some imaginary “golden” ticket to the pros and will never be satisfied with any coach or any program. As a coach, I’m not interested in one and done. A lot of time, effort and money goes into working with a player. The reward is seeing that player develop over time. It is a much harder investment to make when you know the kid will not be playing with you for long. And unless this kid is pitching, playing shortstop and batting third, he definitely won’t be because his parents will be shopping for a new team.   

It trickles down

Players pick up on the vibe when the parents deride the coach or the team. We are teaching them by example that this is an appropriate way to behave and they project it back. 

A parent on one of my 9U teams was overheard on multiple occasions saying his son should be pitching, that he was as good as our number one pitcher. The player didn’t pitch more because he had a 40% strike ratio and walked 13 batters and hit another three over the two and two-thirds innings I had him pitch. After the season, the player asked his close friend who was better, him or another player on the team? When he received an answer he didn’t like, the player, who was one most well-mannered kids I have ever coached, called his friend an offensive name. He then went on to say he was the best pitcher on the team and should have pitched in all our games. Where did that come from?   Throwing Technique

When a parent tells me how every team has mistreated his kid, I worry that player is going to be a prima donna. Is he going to take instruction or think he knows better than everyone because all he’s heard at home is how great he is and how wrong his coach is? Is he going to mope on the bench and blame his teammates when things don’t go his way or he when isn’t playing his preferred position, or is he going to accept it and work harder?

A toxic sideline

In a previous post, I wrote about a coach’s responsibility to create a successful environment for the parents of their players. I am a big proponent of taking the time to listen to and address any concerns parents may have. But the concerns of a parent who believes their child is better than everyone else can never be addressed satisfactorily. That can turn the sideline, a delicate ecosystem to begin with, toxic.

At the high school level, the effects can be career threatening for a coach. This past August, a high school coach was sued for not playing a kid. The movie Trophy Kids, a worthwhile watch about over-the-top sports parents, ends with the true story of a tenured basketball coach’s firing after a group of disgruntled parents lobbied for his dismissal. These are just two examples of what is at stake. At younger ages, it can be a constant distraction (or worse) for both the coach and the team.

As much as coaches want good players on their team, they also want to be able to focus on player and team development. That is harder to do when being forced to deal with the drama of parents who have unrealistic expectations. And no coach wants drama. 

Brian Sieger is a father of two, husband, volunteer baseball coach and author of the blog 8U Travel

Fly Like An Eagle 5K Run/Walk

The Assumption Athletic Boosters Club presents the 2017 “Fly Like an Eagle” 5k fun run/walk.

  • August  12th 2017

  • Race starts at 9:00 AM

  • Kids 1/2 mile fun run starts at 10:00 AM

This event supports the Athletic Boosters and Student Athletes of Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary school.

The course runs through the scenic heart of Belmont.

Last year’s event had over 200 participants which included adults and children. We want to thank all of the men and women that participated. Also a big thank you to all the volunteers that go largely unnoticed.

Thank You!

Tips to stay safe

Baseball is a relatively low-impact sport that can still cause a broad range of injuries if players aren’t carefully prepared. From pulled muscles in the arms to head injuries, players are at risk every time they take to the field. However, it is possible to protect yourself from the dangers of the game by taking a few necessary precautions.

The following five tips are the best ways to stay safe at a baseball game. Many of them may seem like they are little more than common sense, but they are so common for a reason: they work. Make sure to follow this advice when you take to the field to stay happy, healthy, and able to play baseball another day.

Baseball Player1. Always Wear Your Protective Gear

When it comes time to play a pickup game, it’s easy just to ignore your safety gear and jump out on the field. This move is a grave mistake. Safety equipment is designed to protect you against the serious concerns that can occur on the baseball field. Without it, you open yourself to any number of minor or severe issues.

For example, if you don’t wear a helmet when you bat, you run the risk of a huge hit on the head that could knock you unconscious. Even worse, it could cause brain damage or possibly death. Other pieces of safety equipment, like knee pads, are an important way of protecting your legs from serious injury.

2. Take a Break When You’re Tired

Everybody wants to be the hero when they’re out on the field. Pushing yourself a little harder than necessary is part of the fun of playing sports. However, there is a chance you could push yourself just a little too far for your good. For example, pitching an excessive number of innings could put a severe strain on your arm.

That stress could cause serious problems, such as pulled muscles, that could become even more severe later on down the road. Taking a rest when you feel tired is not a shameful thing to do. In fact, it can be an important way of avoiding overworking your body, your muscles, and causing bad issues that would never have occurred otherwise.

3. Always Warm Up Before You Play

Warming up your muscles and lungs before you play baseball is one of the most significant ways of avoiding injury. Sure, it can feel redundant to throw the ball around on the field for 15 minutes before playing. However, it can get your muscles working in a relaxed manner and prepare them for the more challenging experiences that lay ahead.

Warm ups to consider include light jogs, throwing drills, batting practice, stretches, and even sprints. Working your lungs and your body will not only protect you from injury but get your blood flowing. This increased blood flow will boost your level of energy naturally and give you more strength. It will also make more blood available if you do get injured, helping your wounds heal more quickly.

4. Avoid Excessive Contact

While baseball is not a contact sport, there are instances when it may be unavoidable. For example, you may hit slightly into basemen when running or even collide with a teammate when trying to field a ball. These instances may seem comical to those who are watching the game, but they can lead to injuries as severe as concussions when they do occur.

Baseball in GrassYou should also just accept the tag out at home base if the catcher has the ball. Running into the catcher, or even through them, could injure both you and that player. It is also typically frowned upon or even illegal in most leagues. Try to slide around them when at all possible, but if you’re out dead to rights, just accept the tag and avoid the injury.

Another way to prevent contact injuries is to stop sliding when it isn’t necessary. Yes, sliding is a lot of fun and even dramatic, but there’s no need to slide into the home base if you’re in no danger of being thrown out. Sliding can cause a lot of impact on the body when done too often. It can cause scrapes, strains, and even sprains. So keep on your feet unless you can’t avoid it.

5. Stretch Before Playing

Baseball players should perform a series of simple exercises to protect their body from injury while on the field. Just a few of these stretches include:

  1. Sleeper Stretch – This stretch consists of moving the shoulders and arms in gentle ways to decrease the potential strain on the arms and keep the player from getting injured.
  2. Serratus Slide – Performing this stretch consists of rotating the shoulder blades up and down, in simple circles, as a way of decreasing tension.
  3. Rotation Hip Stretch – Bend your knees forward at 90 degrees, spread your feet as far apart as is comfortable, and touch your toes to complete this stretch.
  4. Pec corner Stretch – Press your throwing shoulder against the corner of a wall and turn your body and head away from the wall as far as you can.

By performing these simple warm-up exercises, the baseball player can prevent serious injuries and keep themselves in great shape. They are also a good way to directly work the body and prepare for the hard experience that lay ahead.

Be safe out there!

Eagle Club Membership Flyer

Spring Fund Drive for the AABC Eagle Club Membership is happening now. Below is the link for our push for your support. Please take a moment and see what you can contribute to help us for our sports season.




Assumption Athletics Eagles Club Levels Spring Drive 2017

Assumption Athletic Booster Club | October 2016

AABC President’s Corner:

GO EAGLES!!  I love to hear that sound.  It has been an exciting fall season for our athletes.  We are so proud of all those who participated and represented ABVM.

A special CONGRATS to our 2016 5/6th grade boys football team who has gone undefeated in regular season play & earned a spot in the championship game “All Saints Bowl” …coming out with a win over North Pointe Christian 12-6 at the CAT!!! Champions!! Way to go Eagles!!

I also want to thank the parents for all your efforts to ensure your children made it to practices and games.  When teams are combined, it is not always the easiest to coordinate car pools to various locations for practices and games.  The Boosters appreciate your commitment to all the athletes this season.  Also, thank you to those parents and students who gave time in the concession stand during this fall season.  You are the reason we continue to have the #1 facility and concession offerings in GRACEAC!

Lastly, I want to thank Kevin and Katie McGrath and Greg and Colleen Simmons for their support of the ABVM Eagles Club during our fall drive.  We are excited to add your names/business to our ever growing sponsor wall in the FLC.  Thank you for your support of the ABVM athletics.We look forward to the winter sports season – if you have not signed up your child yet, please do so.  We can’t wait to see and cheer on our ABVM Athletes!!!  GO EAGLES!